We've come full circle

You're sitting alone in your car.

It's dark.
It's cold.

It's really no place to be,
but you were told you were to receive a package.

A man in a dark coat
and low-brimmed hat

steps up to the side of your car
and raps on the window.

You roll it down a few inches,
and he slips a manila folder through.

Inside are several envelopes,

each labeled with a name.
There's at least a dozen of them.

Maybe more.

(It's a big folder.)
Inside them are pictures.


Police reports.

You suddenly remember the names.

Recognize them.

However unfortunate it may be,

you've come


Her screams are like ambrosia.



he got me again

and he

i can't

when i stepped off the plane he was there

nowhere to run

nowhere to hide

couldn't even call for help

frozen in place like

like he had done something





he stroked my face

caressed me

spoke to me as a lover

and then


i can't


i can't

he can't

i can't walk

he, my

my knees


the hammer


none left


nine eight seven six five four three




zero, zero




he was curious

he was so curious

what would happen if he pledged himself to him?

he was too curious

curiosity killed the cat

but he was

and satisfaction brought it back

with a vengeance
Are you blind when you're born? Can you see in the dark?
Can you look at a king? Would you sit on his throne?
Can you say of your bite that it's worse than your bark?
Are you cock of the walk when you're walking alone?


Light as a feather

And...there are lots of trees here.

Enough to feel...claustrophobic.

But they don't look threatening.

Not to me, at least.

The trees here...are softer, almost.

As if they protect what they hide.

No doubt there's treasure buried away somewhere in this great forest.

But I'm in no shape to go searching for it.

I've not wandered about the trees, no, I'm not ready for that yet.

But I've stared out at them through the windows.

At least, the ones that aren't broken.

It's cold here. They say it's always cold, and I don't know how they can stand it.

I have Frankenstein to keep me warm, though. A big ol' jungle cat for protection.

I used to be afraid of dying.

Now that I'm basically a corpse anyway, I...
The boils have appeared now.

Maybe that means it'll be over soon.

Maybe if I die, people will be able to stop fussing over me.

I've only been a burden. I'm no use.

I'm not brave, like Elaine.

I'm not willful, like Rachael.

I'm not even huggable anymore, like Frank here.

I haven't helped anyone.

Have I?



It was a nice place. I wish it hadn't gone like it did.
The motel wasn't exactly a fortress, but it was out in the middle of nowhere, and that single fact gave off a sense of security like nothing else could. But senses don't translate well into reality.
At something like one in the morning, someone in the lobby, probably the receptionist, started screaming on the intercom system about a fire. We had known something could have happened at any time, so we were up and out the door within minutes. There were maybe two other occupied rooms in the whole building, and as there was only one floor everyone got out safely. There was more than one ridge of flame spreading across the building. The first fire had started on the opposite end from where we had been, but it wasn't long before more lit up, consuming all that was visible of the once-proud motel. The manager was the last out, carrying a registry, and he did his own headcount; I guess baked customers are bad for business.
He counted twice, nodded to himself, and sagged against a car. I was about to go over and comfort the poor man when I realized there was one head missing. A very furry one.
Frankenstein was nowhere to be seen.
I know I made a bad decision. I know cats can often take care of themselves, and get out of the worst situations. I know I could have gotten hurt - worse than I was, anyway. Or killed. But Frank was just barely not a kitten. And he was my last memory of Francis. I couldn't let him perish. I dashed back through the shattered revolving door and started to run in the direction of the room. I heard his mewling before I had even got my hand on the knob, and once I was back inside I saw him again. He looked fine, if a little scared. I ran to him and cradled him in my arms, whispering what I hoped to be calming words, soothing lullabies. Frank leaped from my grasp, clawed his way up the curtains, and tumbled out of the window. Then fire collapsed on my back.
Not a beam, not a plank of wood, but just pure fire landed on top of me, forcing me to my hands and knees and subsequently the floor, where I began to choke and cough from the smoke inhalation. It didn't take long for me to pass out.
When I woke up Elaine was looking down at me, and there were stars behind her head, or maybe in her eyes, or maybe there weren't any stars at all. It hurt to move at all for a while, but when the manager offered to call an ambulance I refused. When time enough had passed and I forgot how to feel the pain, I stood up, and Frankenstein barreled into me, almost knocking me back down. In the ashes of the motel, a dark, bulky figure was sweeping at the ashes. When he turned, he saw me looking at him, and in a strange twist of movement and with the slightest spark as if at a campfire, disappeared.
When we were out of sight of the ruined motel, Cheshire's voice came to me again. "Three left," it said.
Oh well. At least the cat's safe.


Old world blues

On Friday we ran into an old acquaintance of mine.

An...an ex.

We dated for a while in high school,

when we were young

and innocent,

and thought we could rule the world.

He didn't stick around long enough for a proper reunion.

He saw me - like this -

and he asked me how my cats were doing.

He knows I almost always have a cat or two around.

I told him they had...passed on.

Francis looked so genuinely sad when I said that.

He promised to get me a new cat.

He rushed away before I could say another word,

and an hour later he was back,

with a little kitten.

Its coat was patchy -
not that it was missing any part of it,

but there were splotches of brown,




and he has the deepest sea-green forest-green green-green eyes.

Which fits, I think.

Considering the - the other two had red ones.

I don't know how he found out

but Francis confronted me some time later
with eight words:

Did that Cheshire bastard do this to you?

I couldn't say no.

It's not in my nature to lie.

I bit my lip,

and nodded my head

almost imperceptibly.

He nodded more vigorously.

Ran off,

hopped in a car

and drove away.

Last night I had a dream.

Cheshire was there.

Francis was there.

Cheshire was laughing.

Francis was dead.

I'm so sorry, Francis.

I'm naming the cat Frankenstein.

After its latest, greatest owne-

no. Not owner.

You can't own an animal, any more than you could own a human.

And what are humans but animals, anyway?

I'm naming the cat Frankenstein,

after its latest



So much better than I'll ever be.

The scales are tipping so far in the wrong direction...

We need balance.


And now...

Elaine has come.

I probably didn't look so good.

I might have even appeared as if I were finally dead,

laying listlessly on the couch as I was.

But it didn't take long to leave,

to head towards the one place

to meet the person

that I've anticipated meeting

that I've dreaded meeting

for...some time, now.

Never feared.

I never was afraid. Not of -


For all the soft words she's giving us,

Rachael is...

I can't say what she is.

She intrigues me,

as I assume I intrigue her.

I wish I could manage to show her the kindness she shows us.

But something...

It's more like a maze than a wall.

More like a swamp than an ocean.

There's something there, maybe even near,

but getting there requires effort that could tire Hercules.

But never let it be said I couldn't complete a measly twelve tasks

for a man who hides in a brass pot.


Killjay is here.

She's...done something.

She...fixed this...thing Cheshire did to me.

I still feel like a corpse.

The last of my teeth fell out about an hour ago.

But it won't kill me now, if she's right.

And I trust her.

She says she doesn't care about anything.

She says she's not on anyone's side.

But I know this is important to her.

She has to deal with this...Wasting thing too.

But...as soon as it was done,

as soon as she had finished,

I heard him.

Heard his voice.

He wasn't nearby, I think.

I could see his smile on the edge of my vision.

"Five left."

Sir Thighpiece's...contraption did the job, though.

Cheshire never actually showed up.

Killjay is leaving, now, I think.

She has no reason to stay, she says,

although I think she should relax.

But I see them everywhere now.
The circles.

The circles, everywhere.

The circles of cats,

of boxes,

of swords,

of smiles.

I hate them.

I hate those circles.

Such ordinary things make me afraid now.

The moon.

The caterwauling at night.

Sharp shadows on grass.

Watches, clocks.



Cats, even.


And circles.


Such an ordinary thing.

And I should be meeting some friends soon.

Maybe I'll get a chance to relax.

She got into my head.

That's what Killjay does,

but it didn't force me out.

I was...

we were one.

For but a moment.

It was the most





frightening thing

I have ever experienced.

That kind of intimacy is...

probably not something you want to deal with.

Not that it's...bad?

But it's something big, on top of something huge.

We need to make some molehills out of mountains.

Not just keep piling rocks on top.